Tag Archives: kids

Thanks For the Train Table, But My Kid Lives in an Apartment

Our family of four lives in a three-bedroom apartment in New York City. The kids share a bedroom and the “third bedroom” is a dining room that has been transformed into a playroom (a rare luxury in these parts). I am engaged in a perpetual war against Addy and Zack’s toys, trying to contain them in these two rooms in a configuration that doesn’t resemble a garbage dump.  See exhibit A for evidence of my failure:

Playroom

Two weeks ago, both my mother and my sister-in-law called me while holiday shopping. “Do you think Zack wants Legos?”, “How about a real workbench with a full set of tools and screws?” I had to veto it all. “Nothing big.” I said, “Nothing that comes with a million pieces, nothing that resembles anything they already have.” I needed to defend the small amount of grown up space we still have in our home. More importantly, the more puzzles, pegs, beads, squinkies, legos and 50-piece wooden food sets that accumulate, the closer I get to seeking professional help for the undiagnosed OCD that keeps me up until 1:00 AM organizing it all. The bottom line is that until we live in a house in the suburbs with a hoarders-inspired, kids-only basement, I will be the Grinch who stole Hanukkah. Accordingly, I have developed a list of a few of the top holiday gifts for preschoolers who live in apartments. Grandmas and Grandpas, take note.

Real Deal Gift Ideas…

Tickets to the Fresh Beat Band Concert

They’re small. We throw them in the garbage when we’re done with them. Most important, I can never figure out when they go on sale until I’m a month too late and only the crappy seats are left, so I need someone else to take over this job anyway.

Disney DVDs

They’re easy to store and they double as a free two-hour babysitter when I want to take a nap.

Gifts for Those on a Budget…

A Box of Cookies

There’s nothing that gets little kids more excited than giving them a box of cookies. What’s great is that they are perfectly satisfied when you give them just one. What’s even better is that they believe you when you tell them there are no cookies left in the box the next day because they finished them all.

Bubble Wrap

Bubble wrap is like the supporting actress who steals the show from the leading lady, the bread that you fill up on at a restaurant and then have no room left for dinner. No matter what amazing toy is protected by its cushy little buttons, kids always just want to play with the bubble wrap. It provides hours of entertainment and can be dumped with a clean conscience once it’s deflated. What more could a little apartment dweller’s mom ask for?

Gifts I Can Only Dream About…

Live-in Housekeeper

A perfect gift for a toddler, a live-in housekeeper will provide one more adult in the apartment who will bend to their every whiny command. As an added bonus, when grandma inevitably ignores your request to nix the fifty-piece puzzle books that constantly spill out all over the floor, a live-in housekeeper will help keep your sanity better than lithium. Where’s she going to sleep? Hell, if she really cleans up every day, she can take my side of the bed and I’ll sleep standing up in the closet.

A Storage Unit

For a mere $100/month, you can bring joy to the heart of a little one by bringing the coveted basement full of toys to the NYC apartment. So what if it’s just a 3’ x 3’ x 3’ metal cage? Who cares if I stuff it so full of exersaucers, baby swings and singing puppy dogs that if a kid actually took anything out of it, it would trigger a deadly avalanche? Big deal if the sub cellar where it’s located is also a rat tenement? I could get rid of TWENTY SEVEN CUBIC FEET of toys! Definitely worth the risks.

Ambien-Laced Brownies

Total non-sequitur. It’s 10:41 PM right now. Why the hell is Zack still up in his bed whispering to his team of stuffed animals? Either this kid needs some Ambien-laced brownies for Hanukkah or I do so I can go to sleep and stop staring at his beady, glowing eyes in the damn monitor.

Be Warned…

Ignore the aforementioned banned gift characteristics and your present will land on the re-gift shelf. The re-gift shelf is a thing of beauty. It emits rays of sunshine every time I crack open the closet door as if it was a direct invention of God him(her?it?)self. Entry to the re-gift shelf means there is one less toy messing up my living room and there is one less gift I have to buy for someone else. So actually, I beg you, please forget everything I said in this post and just give my kids something I can guiltlessly pass on to someone else.

Share your ideas!  What are some serious or funny ideal gifts for the space challenged?

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Momamasochists

My dear friend Kate and I have something in common besides being moms of three-year-old twins.  We’re insane.  For our kids’ birthday parties, we both decided to completely pass off the work to one of the 18,000 kiddie gyms on the Upper West Side.  They plan and run the party, they provide the space, they order the pizza and juice boxes, they make the goody bags, they clean up and all we have to do is sign the credit card receipt.  Piece of cake, right?  Not if you are a momamasochist like us.

Kate and I both could not leave well enough alone, and we decided that even though the gyms provide the birthday cakes, we would make them ourselves.  I figured it would be fun and it would probably save some money, so off I went to two supermarkets and Michael’s to get all the supplies.  Yup, three different stores where I spent over $100.  Since the cost saving objective was out the window, I said screw it and decided to make one cake for each kid.  At 8:00 PM on the night before the party, I started to decorate the cakes – a skull pirate and a princess.  The pirate actually wasn’t too difficult and came out pretty decent, but the princess…the damn princess.

As I decorated the princess cake, things seemed to be going well except for a few minor details along the way.  Here were the small issues I encountered:

  1. The sleeveless, v-neck dress I drew on her looked like it was from Loehmann’s.
  2. Her hair was poofed a la Peggy Bundy.
  3. The black icing I used for her eyes and eyelashes was a little too thick and runny.
  4. I messed up her lips and attempted to fix it by adding layers of pink until they were, shall we say voluptuous.
  5. Speaking of voluptuous, this princess needed a breast reduction.

I was so razor focused on getting all of the tiny details on this cake right that I didn’t step back and actually look at the whole thing until about an hour into decorating.  Based on my list of issues above, can you guess what I saw when I finally did take a moment to admire my creation?  You are correct, instead of a princess, I had made a cougar.  Not the four-legged, furry, lethal kind.  The two-legged, furry, 48-year-old, lethal kind.  I needed to fix this, and fast before Addy’s third birthday party was ruined by my old, slutty cake.  I did the best that I could do at midnight with my eyes crossing and my hands shaking, and shaved a few years off of the poor hag before heading to bed much later than I had planned.  It’s amazing I didn’t have nightmares that night because this is what slept in my fridge:

In the end, the kids loved the cakes and I felt I had done my part to make their third birthday, which they are sure to never remember, unforgettable.

Last weekend, we went to Kate’s kids’ birthday party and saw this homemade treasure chest cake that she slaved over as well:

Reflecting on our creations, she asked this question: is it extreme love or plain insanity that possessed us to make these cakes?  The answer is a little of both.

Eat Your Clucking Broccoli

When I became a mom three years ago, I quickly realized that this job requires proficiency at a large and varied number of skills.  Changing diapers without getting drenched, holding my breath for five minutes while I empty the diaper garbage, patting my head while rubbing my belly in a circular motion, you get the drift.  But it wasn’t until recently that I realized the most valuable skill I could ever have as a mom is the ability to act like a sleeping zoo animal.

No joke, I am required by my children to use this skill multiple times a day, every day without fail.  The two primary locations in which it is demanded are the kitchen and the bathroom.  In the kitchen, here is what goes down:  I put a well-balanced and delicious meal in front of Addy and Zack containing a fruit, a vegetable, a protein and pasta.  They transform into vacuum cleaners, point the hose directly at the pasta, press on, the pasta disappears off of their plates (no chewing, no hands, no swallowing), and then they transform back into humans.  For the next half hour, they initiate 847 different topics of conversation ranging from where Daddy is to how I cured Zack’s hiccups last night (a.k.a. seven weeks ago) by saying “Boo!”  They get up and sit down no less than 25 times, Addy falls off of her chair at least once, and they completely ignore me anytime I say “please eat your [fruit/vegetable/protein].”

One day I was so beaten down from my failed efforts to get them to eat anything nutritious that I put my head down on the table and closed my eyes.  Zack and Addy promptly started screaming at me “Wake up Mommy!!!! Wake uuuuuuuuuuuuuup!!” and then the idea hit me.  I told them that the only way to wake me up would be to eat a piece of chicken and then I fell back to sleep on the table.  Shockingly, they did it and I woke up with a little jump that made them giggle.  Then they begged me to do it again and again and I proceeded to con those suckers into eating their whole dinner.

Over time, my wake ups required more and more pizzazz.  I am now at the point where I pretend to be a sleeping animal instead of a sleeping mom.  When Addy and Ben take a bite of their food, I wake up, jump out of my seat and make any one of about 27 different animal noises.  My favorite is the giraffe because it requires the least amount of effort – munch, munch.  My least favorite is the elephant, which I make by pressing my lips together and blowing really hard to create a horrible noise that makes me feel like I am going to pass out right into their plates.

I’ll spare you the details of how this skill applies in the bathroom.  Just know that my kids can be even more chatty and unfocused on the pooper than they are at dinner and, trust me, the sleeping chimpanzee works better than a tab of ex-lax with a prune juice chaser.